As I believe I’ve said before, I respect George Will’s reasoning and intellectual discipline, though I seldom agree with his conclusions. But on this issue he gets it.
No party monopolizes “values”:
Conservatives should be wary of the idea that when they talk about, say, tax cuts and limited government — about things other than abortion, gay marriage, religion in the public square and similar issues — they are engaging in values-free discourse. And by ratifying the social conservatives’ monopoly of the label “values voters,” the media are furthering the fiction that these voters are somehow more morally awake than others.
Today’s liberal agenda includes preservation, even expansion, of the welfare state in its current configuration in order to strengthen an egalitarian ethic of common provision. Liberals favor taxes and other measures to produce a more equal distribution of income. They may value equality indiscriminately, but they vote their values.
Among the various flavors of conservatism, there is libertarianism that is wary of government attempts to nurture morality and there is social conservatism that says unless government nurtures morality, liberty will perish. Both kinds of conservatives use their votes to advance what they value.
Regular readers know that I the political positions I favor are often the ones liberal ones. They spring from strong values about the meaning, course, had destiny of the United States of America; about fairness; about the intent of the Founders and the meaning of the United States Constitution; and about criminal, civil, and social justice.
Sadly, on the national platform, we do not seem to have anyone who can articulate those values, who has the courage to take stands and the leadership ability to translate those values into political victory and national policy.
Those who take stands don’t seem to articulate liberal values so as to reach others, and those who seek political value have become frightened of their own shadows from the rightwing’s tactic of painting them as traitors and wusses.
The right is right; many politicians who believe in liberal values, values of justice, cooperation, and honesty (a value notable missing from the current Federal Administration) are wusses. They fear speaking the truth–and, by that, I do not mean calling names–and are incapable of showing vision.